15 May 10 Places to Be a Tourist in LA
1. Hollywood Boulevard/Walk of Fame
You can’t visit Los Angeles without getting a taste of Hollywood. The Walk of Fame attracts 10 million tourists every year to admire the stars along the sidewalks boasting names of legends in the entertainment industry. There are countless things to do along Hollywood Boulevard. The coolest stop is the TLC Chinese Theatre, with nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs in the concrete of the forecourt. Other popular tourist attractions along the Walk of Fame are Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, Jimmy Kimmel Live (click the link for tickets,) the El Capitan Theater and Dolby Theater where the Oscars are held every year. There is also the Hollywood & Highland shopping center and many restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Rooftop bars in the area offer gorgeous views of the landscape and Hollywood sign.
2. Griffith Observatory
Perhaps the most enchanting place in LA- Griffith Observatory overlooks the Los Angeles basin, including downtown, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. Explore the rooftop for a bird’s eye view of the cityscape and Hollywood sign. Admission has been free since the Observatory opened in 1935. The Observatory houses space and science-related displays including a giant pendulum, telescopes, and a planetarium. You can park down the hill and hike up to the Observatory, or get lucky and snag a parking spot in the lot outside the tourist hotspot.
3. Santa Monica Pier- “Pacific Park”
One of the must-do’s for your first time in LA is visiting the Santa Monica Pier, formerly called “Pacific Park.” The oceanfront amusement park boasts shops, restaurants, a roller coaster, and the world’s first and only solar powered Ferris wheel. A sign on the pier marks the western end of Route 66. Grab a funnel cake and some cute photos, then head on over to the Third Street Promenade Mall across the street.
4. Venice Beach
To experience the free spirit of LA in a nutshell, go to Venice Beach. The Venice Beach boardwalk offers eclectic shops, street performers, wall murals, and things you’d see in a 90’s movie, like roller skaters, a skate park and the Muscle Beach outdoor gym. Watch some surfers or even take a surf lesson. Hit up Abbot Kinney Boulevard for cute boutiques and foodie hot spots. Venice is also famous for its enclave of canals with arching pedestrian bridges.
5. The Grove & Original Farmers Market
The Grove is a charming outdoor shopping and dining center located in West Hollywood. Day or night, the Grove is a beautiful place to spend time with its charming atmosphere, including a double-decker trolley and fountains synchronized to Old Hollywood tunes. Hit the shops, catch a movie at the gorgeous Pacific Theatre, and grab a bite at the famous Original Farmers Market. The market opened in 1934 and is an LA landmark, hosting food vendors, sit-down eateries and produce.
6. LACMA Lights- “Urban Light”
Just five minutes from the Grove is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA.) LACMA is the largest art museum in the western U.S. and attracts nearly a million visitors annually. If you don’t tour the museum, you must at least visit the “Urban Light” display at night. This free public display by Chris Burden consists of restored street lamps from the 1920’s and 1930’s that once lit the streets of Southern California. The breathtaking display is visited by countless tourists every night.
7. Melrose Avenue
Melrose Avenue is a shopping, dining and entertainment hotspot that starts at Santa Monica Boulevard, at the border between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. It ends at Lucile Avenue in Silver Lake. This strip boasts unique clothing stores, thrift stores, wall art, and great restaurants. The Hollywood Improv comedy club and Groundlings Theatre are located on Melrose if you’re looking for something fun to do after sunset. Every Sunday, an outdoor antique and vintage market takes place called “The Melrose Trading Post.”
8. Malibu- El Matador State Beach
Every beach in Malibu is gorgeous, but El Matador State Beach transports you to Europe with its giant rock outcrops. You will park at the top of a bluff and walk down several flights of stairs to get to the beach nestled at the bottom of a cliff. Sunset is the ideal time to visit. Whether you drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, or through the Santa Monica Mountains to get to Malibu, prepare for some amazing views on your drive.
9. Grand Central Market
The Grand Central Market has been a hallmark of downtown LA since 1917. The market brings together the many different cuisines and cultures of LA into one place with delicious food vendors and fresh produce. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. For a little slice of history, you can ride the Angels Flight Railway just across the street. Built in 1901, Angel’s Flight has two cable railway cars running in opposite directions on an incline, allowing people to travel between the Downtown Historic Core and Bunker Hill. It only costs one dollar for a one-way ride up or down the hill.
10. Echo Park Lake
Located in the eccentric neighborhood of Echo Park, Echo Park Lake provides a beautiful oasis with a picturesque view of the downtown skyline. The lake offers paddle boating among lotus flowers and fountains. There is a walking path all around the lake, where you can enjoy watching waterfowl. Echo Park and its neighboring district Silver Lake are known for their hipster culture of wall murals, artisanal coffee shops, vegan cafes and creative eateries, as well as indie music venues, trendy bars and boutiques.
Bonus- Rodeo Drive
If you like to window shop and look at luxury fashion, then go to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Walk along the posh district and enjoy a wonderful selection of restaurants, coffee shops and dessert places. Take a peak inside the luxurious Beverly Wilshire Hotel, known as the “Pretty Woman Hotel,” where the movie of the namesake is set. The legendary property has 395 rooms and suites, and has served as the home to many iconic personalities, including Warren Beatty, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Rodeo Drive is decorated gorgeously during the holidays and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby is perhaps the most lavish part. Beverly Hills is fun to drive around with its streets lined perfectly with palm trees and many mansions to admire.